1972 Holden Torana LJ - Reader Ride

By: Eric Rivalland

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eric rivalland eric rivalland

This seventies family car comes with its own urban myth

 

Eric Rivalland's 1972 Holden LJ Torana 4-door

It was originally an S with a three-on-the-tree and had a 186 in it, with triple Strombergs. I’ve left it as a 186 – admittedly bored out to 194 – but have changed over the Strombergs for Webers. I had the Strombergs all tuned and I wasn’t getting much power, about 86kW.

I took it down the track at Heathcote and the time was 17-something – it wasn’t good.

So I took it to Eddie Woods at Head Stud Developments in Moorabbin, enquiring about a new cylinder head. He had a look and said it was like a badly put-together jigsaw puzzle, so from there it just snowballed. It wasn’t just a new cylinder head, we switched to Webers halfway through the engine rebuild.

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We wanted as much power as possible, so pretty much everything was modified. So we went from 86kW to 150 – it made a big difference. We took it down the track and the fastest time I got was 13.5 sec.

Somewhere along the way I was having the diff and rear axle modified so I could fit 15-inch wheels with 265s on them. At the workshop someone was using an angle grinder under a wheel arch and some sparks got through to the 40-year-old hessian under the back seat. It was up on the hoist and the whole car went up in flames. It was an inferno by the time they got it down.

I got a phone call from the workshop saying come quickly. Luckily my new engine was unaffected. But the whole interior was destroyed. Shannons came up with a cheque and gave me salvage rights, and I had a think about what I wanted to do.

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I had a GTR two-door back in the eighties and thought about getting another. That car was sold for around $800 when I got a company car – a Mitsubishi Magna! It would be a worth a fortune now.

I decided to hang on to this one, given what had been spent on the engine. We redid the interior. Funnily enough the fire extinguisher powder did as much damage as the fire.

The car had GTR XU-1 stickers on it when I bought it, though obviously, with four doors, it isn’t one. People kept coming up to tell me where and why I was wrong. I got sick of this and for a bit of fun I got some 4DR XU-1 stickers made.

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People come up, see the stickers and the XU-1 dash and start scratching their heads. So I tell them a story that when Bev and Peter Brock were having kids, Bev got a bit sick of loading children into the back of a two-door, so Holden made two four-door XU-1s – one each for Peter and Bev. Peter of course wrote his off and this is the only survivor.

I’ve started this myth and I reckon in 20 years’ time it might become fact!

 

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